BUCKHANNON – For drug users in southern Upshur County, the road to recovery just got a little bit shorter.
A partnership between the Opportunity House and the Banks District Volunteer Fire Department is bringing Narcotics Anonymous meetings to the southern end of Upshur County.
John Roby, the fire chief of the Banks District VFD, said he saw a need in the community for the meetings, which are held at the fire department every Tuesday at 7 p.m.
“The fire department is a big center of this community, so we need step up and help,” Roby said. “We need to be proactive instead of just sitting back saying, ‘We have a problem.’ Yes, we know we have a problem and we need to find a way to fix it.”
“We’ve been talking about getting something started down here for people because it’s so far out and some people don’t have the ability to travel,” Roby added. “We wanted to open the fire house so people could come in here and be able to talk and get help.”
Matt Kerner, the executive director of the Opportunity House, said one of the biggest deterrents for people attending recovery meetings is simply getting there.
“Usually one of the biggest barriers to people in early recovery is transportation,” Kerner said. “People going through the recovery process may have lost their driver’s license or lost their car, so they don’t have any way to get places and they might not have a lot of people willing or able to give them rides.”
According to Roby, the fire department felt compelled to act because of the kinds of calls they have been receiving recently.
“We have a lot of drug problems in this area, we have a lot of alcohol problems in this area,” Roby said. “That doesn’t mean they’re bad people. It just means they need help.”
Scott Preston, leader for the Buckhannon Nar-Anon group, said the meetings help people maintain a long-term recovery.
“Any one of the 12-step programs offer a safe spot for people in recovery,” Preston told My Buckhannon. “You need to stay plugged in, and every person defines what’s regular for them. But it’s staying plugged in, it’s hearing the message.”
Kerner said it’s important for people in recovery to be around those who have similar experiences.
“You get to meet with people who have recovered and who are recovering, and that’s kind of a big deal,” Kerner said. “Generally for most people, as their addiction progresses, their world shrinks and friends and family goes, and all of the sudden it’s just you and the dope guy. This helps bring people back into the world with supportive people and people that are living a recovery lifestyle.”
Some people may not want to attend meetings because they are afraid to talk about what they may have done, but they should not expect any judgment at meetings, Kerner explained.
“A lot of people come to the first meeting thinking, ‘The stuff that I’ve done is so horrible and so I’m unforgivable that I can’t even talk about it,'” Kerner said. “People think that they’re just so different that the program won’t work for them, so they don’t participate and can end up dying. We try to tell people no matter what kind of crazy bizarre stuff you’ve done, somebody else has done it too — you’re not the first and you didn’t invent doing that crazy stuff.”
The first meeting took place Feb. 12 and the program will continue weekly at the Banks District Volunteer Fire Department. For more information, Kerner invites people to call the Opportunity House at 304-472-2327.